This is my sister Amelia's all-time favorite dish. She is the youngest in our family. This is also the all-time favorite of my youngest child (also a girl)! You will see my daughter's little hands in some of the pictures below....she also helped me make the homemade bread crumbs. I think a crispy bread crumb topping is essential for this casserole. The smooth and creamy cheese sauce and macaroni provide a wonderful contrast against the crispy crumb topping. This is comfort food for sure!
Macaroni & Cheese
adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
1 pound of macaroni, cooked
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (I used a basic New York Cheddar- it is yellow/orange in color)
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese (I used a Vermont cheese --it is white in color)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (see recipe here Bread Crumbs 101)
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
8 Tablespoons flour
5 cups whole milk (heated --I heated my milk in the microwave)
freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (to drizzle over bread crumb topping)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grate the cheeses onto a piece of parchment or wax paper --this will allow easy transfer to the pot. Cook the macaroni and drain (do not rinse with water). Transfer cooked pasta to 9x13 casserole dish.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture bubbles, about 2-3 minutes. (Don't let it get brown.) Add the hot milk gradually, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste (about a teaspoon each), lower the heat to med/low and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes more. Add the cheese and stir to combine --about a minute.
Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir to combine --make sure all the macaroni is coated with cheese sauce. Sprinkle bread crumbs over casserole and then drizzle with melted butter.
Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes until cheese sauce is bubbling.